With an NFL-high 21 interceptions on the season and six in his last three games, some have suggested that Brett Favre has become careless. But no one agonizes over those turnovers more than No. 4.
"I've always been hard on myself," Favre said. "The guys and coaches know that if I make a mistake that it's an honest mistake, and it's one I'll do my best to correct."
When Favre made a mistake as a young player during the early 1990s, Mike Holmgren would take him to task, embarrassing him in front of players during meetings and practices. But Holmgren began to understand that Favre was a different player, a player with the rare skill to make plays others would not even attempt.
"He never had as many broken plays turn into positive ones as he did when he started coaching me," Favre said. "At some point he kind of gave into that fact that, 'okay, instead of live for another day and throw the ball away, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt.'"
Some pundits have suggested that the current coaching staff needs to take a more Holmgrenian approach and that yelling at Favre would help him avoid the kind of drive-halting play that occurred against the Chicago Bears. With the Packers seven yards from the end zone and poised to score, Bears safety Mike Brown blitzed and disrupted the shovel pass play. Favre attempted to throw the pass out of the end zone. Instead Charles Tillman intercepted it, returned it 95 yards and changed the game's momentum.
Favre, however, insists he plays like he did when he earned three consecutive MVP awards from 1995 to 1997.
'My style of play hasn't changed any," Favre said. "I've always played this way."
Offensive coordinator Tom Rossley knows his quarterback has attempted the strike that few can deliver. More often than not, he has hit his target.
"Throughout his career, he's been a guy that trusts his arm and maybe trusts his arm a little too much," Rossley said. "He will try to fire a ball through a very tight window sometimes. That's why he is who he is."
Having lost several of his most-trusted weapons this year, that window has become even tighter for the 15-year veteran. Javon Walker (knee), Ahman Green (quadriceps tendon) and Najeh Davenport (ankle) have been placed on injured reserve. Robert Ferguson (knee) and Bubba Franks (knee) have also missed significant time. Without those complementary parts, Favre has put even more on his shoulders.
"I almost have to play a perfect game," Favre said. "This year more than ever, we're not able to overcome mistakes."
Although his supporting cast has changed, Favre's toughness has not. The Bears sacked him twice and slammed his head into the ground, causing him to play with a headache for the rest of the game. During Wednesday's press conference, a bandage covered part of his left hand where he had rammed it into a helmet, removing a chunk of skin. A fingernail on that same hand was purple.
"He was pretty beat up after the game. He took some pretty good shots," Rossley said. "It was a pretty physical game."
Despite leading a 2-10 team that will not make the playoffs, Favre took every snap during the Bears game. He never considered asking the coaches if he could take a play off.
"You'll never hear that from Brett Favre," Rossley said. "He looks at the next game like's it the game that will get us over the hump."
You also won't hear any nonchalance regarding his mistakes. Having already graded his performance with quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell, Favre and Head Coach Mike Sherman pored over the game tape of Sunday's 19-7 loss, including errors the quarterback would like to forget.
"Brett Favre is probably one of the most accountable guys on this football team," Sherman said. "He probably beats himself up as much as anybody."
Sherman also said the veteran Favre has enough savvy to move on from that performance. That's a good thing because no one's play is more critical to the Packers' success than Favre's.
"When I play well, we have a good chance to win," Favre said. "When I play bad, we lose."
And as long as Favre wears the Green and Gold, that will never change.